A shipping container has been sited at the start of this flat, off-road route, containing tricycles, tandem trikes, a semi-recumbent trike, a hand-cycle, wheelchair transporter, recumbent trike, tandem and four ordinary mountain bikes. Groups of people with disabilities can join the scheme for an annual fee, and can then book and borrow bikes using an online system.
Wheel Potential is a Community Interest Company founded by three directors in early 2016 with the aim to provide an open-air cycling experience for less-able adults in the Canterbury district, using a safe environment and adapted cycling machines.
The directors are able-bodied, long-term cyclists who were well aware of the joy of spinning along a country lane in the wind and the sun, and of the health and happiness benefits imparted by cycling. But what of those adults who, by virtue of learning or physical disabilities, are unable to ride safely unaccompanied, on-road, or on an orthodox bicycle? There was no facility for such people in Canterbury District, and so the idea to establish one was born.
The project has an occupational therapy purpose at its heart and aims to address health needs for people with life-limiting illness. There are a variety of partners including Occupational Therapy, Canterbury City Council, Parkinson’s UK and British Cycling.
Users are able to exercise in fresh air and with the company of others. They become more physically active, and in the case of Parkinson’s patients maintain their mobility and flexibility for longer. They learn about the maintenance and cleaning of machines and have the opportunity to try different cycles, progressing as they become more confident.